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2019 CA Report: Best Cigars When You’re Manning the Grill
Manning the grill is a rite of passage to mankind. Standing over an open fire while charring up a meaty beast brings out the primordial instincts in our DNA. While turning those Flintstone-sized tomahawk steaks, I can be heard grunting and scratching from several blocks away.
Whether I’m grilling up some quick burgers and dogs or spending an hour and a half basting my mouthwatering Beer-Can Chicken recipe, there’s always the right cigar to keep me company during the grilling process. And then there are those hand rolled sticks that pair so well with the cornucopia of food you’ll be devouring at Memorial Day and July 4th back-yard barbecues.
Below you’ll find a couple of recipe faves of mine, along with the cigars that pair with them so nicely. Also, find some cigar suggestions that work best during the amount of time you’ll be cooking.
Zman’s Beer Can Chicken Recipe – If you’ve never tried this way of grilling chicken, I’m here to tell you it’s a must – juicy, crispy and drop-dead delicious. The beer steams on the inside while it permeates the meat, making it fall-off-the-bone awesome. I use 4 lb whole chickens and cook at least 2 of them. And, if you’re going to do it right, pick up some beer can holders made for this so the chix don’t tip over (you can find them online, I got mine at Home Depot). There’s a ton of ways you can season or marinade your bird, and here’s MY mouth-watering take.
Marinade: Italian dressing and Teriyaki. I use Wishbone Italian with the little chunks of spices, and I slather the birds, then let them sit for an hour. Next, fill a small spray bottle with teriyaki. The combination of the Italian dressing and the teriyaki gives the meat an amazing sweet and savory flavor.
You want to cook them on indirect heat – medium temperature. For a gas grill, I only light the left and right burners and place the chicken in the middle. For a charcoal grill, place the coals to the right and the chicken to the left.
Now… gently slide a half-filled can of beer – any beer – up the bird’s opening so it’s butt reaches the bottom of the can (like I said, a beer can holder for grilling will make this a 1,000 times easier). Place the birds over the grill where there is no direct flame. Every ten minutes I give the chicken a quarter-turn and then spritz it down with teriyaki. Now this will take about an hour and a half to cook until it reaches a temp of 165, so use a meat thermometer placed deep into the breast. When it’s done, your bird looks roasty-toasty golden brown and will be dripping with juices from within.
Another delicious, creative, and easy to make dish is cedar plank grilled salmon – that’s right, salmon grilled on top of a piece of cedar – it’s tastier than you can imagine…I have a great recipe from the Food Network you should use:
And now, here’s a few cigars that I like to enjoy while spending my time behind the grill… grunt, grunt, snort…
Size: Petite Corona (5 ¼” x 42)
Wrapper: US Connecticut Shade
Foundation Cigars chief, Nick Melillo (formerly head blender at Drew Estate) knocked it out of the park with this blend that has gained many an accolade from the cigar world. This little stick packs an awful lot of premium tobacco flavor, especially one that’s covered in a US Connecticut wrapper. The first few puffs show off its creaminess with notes of sweet cedar, as a distinct nuttiness starts to build. It’s amazing how much complexity is present as the flavors of charred oak and spice join in. And you’ve gotta do the retrohale, as the sweetness intensifies. I enjoyed this with a Chimay Blue Belgian Ale, whose fruitiness made for a delicious pairing. I honestly didn’t want to step away from the grill.
Ashton Señorita Connecticut
Size: Cigarillo (3 ½” x 30)
Wrapper: US Connecticut Shade
Ashton has always been known for its tasty mellower side, and a small cigar like this is perfect when you’re spending 15 minutes or less behind the barbecue. Nice light cigars like these keep your palate relatively clean while delivering a sweet woodiness and nuttiness. These are very creamy smokes and I usually pair them with an icy cold pilsner like a crisp Stella Artois. This one is a little bigger than the typical cigarillo, available in tins of ten. The nice thing is that they deliver the tobacco flavor you want, leaving your taste buds ready for a fuller bodied, post-meal smoke.
Perdomo Mini Maduro
Size: Cigarillo (3″ x 22)
Wrapper: Habano Maduro
You want to get a quick smoke in because you won’t be spending a lot of time behind the grill, but you want a nice shot of flavor to satisfy your pre-meal tobacco craving. Well, Nick Perdomo delivers the perfect choice to meet your smoky needs with this all-Nicaraguan cigarillo. Grown on Perdomo’s own farm, the dark leaf has a nice bit of spiciness with notes of coffee bean and bitter dark chocolate. It’s amazing that a diminutive smoke like this can have so much flavor, and pair it with your craft beer of choice and dinner just might have to wait while you fire up another. These are available in tins of ten, in a ten-tin package.
Tatuaje Skinny Monsters Hyde
Size: Lancero (6″ x 38)
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
So, you’re grilling up a few rib-eyes and you want a cigar that’s big on flavor for about 20 – 25 minutes. Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje Skinny Monsters are wildly popular smokes, and I particularly like the Hyde’s flavor profile for when you’re short on time. The inner blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos gives it a spiciness, and the luxurious Sumatran outer leaf tones it down to a medium-bodied creaminess. I get a definite coffee bean flavor throughout with hints of sweet wood and just a touch of molasses. A little nip of Knob Creek bourbon tosses in some sweetness and is the perfect pre-cursor to those charred up steaks. Note: You could easily enjoy this Monster after dinner as well.
Here are a few cigar suggestions to go with the grilled food you’ll be devouring…
Rocky Patel Decade
Size: Toro Tubo (6 ½” x 52)
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
You’re headed out to the holiday barbecue bash and you want a cigar with a lot of flavor to stand up to the barrage of food you’ll be downing. I would choose this particular Rocky for two reasons: It’s full flavored and it comes in a tube that you can carry around for the day without getting crushed. The Decade celebrates Rocky’s 10th Anniversary in the biz and it is an all-time fan favorite. Box-pressed, dark and oily, it’s Nicaraguan core and zesty Sumatra wrapper will pair up nicely with barbeque fare. The Decade is surprisingly front-loaded with flavor, as notes of dark chocolate and black cherry hit almost immediately upon lighting up. It’s smooth and creamy with a citrusy tang that shows itself about hallway through and never stops delivering rich flavor until the final puff.
Size: Robusto Plus (5″ x 52)
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Today you’re attending a “real” BBQ outing – I’m talking smoked ribs and brisket, baked beans, and side dishes laden with bacon. And that means you need a full-bodied beast to cut through this day of gluttonous proportions. The Umbagog is the answer, not only because of how insanely delicious it is, but because it’s priced nice for a premium stick. Creator Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust blended the super-premium Mi Querida. But being a master-stickler for ultra-quality, Steve yanked the MQ’s that he deemed “too ugly” and bundled them as the Umbagog. Well, I sure as hell can’t notice a “visible” difference whatsoever, but I do notice the dark rich flavors of espresso, earth, and a dark chocolate sweetness. The Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrapper has a gorgeous sheen and is responsible for that underlying sweetness that you’ll notice within the first few puffs, and stays consistent to the end. This is a tremendous full-flavored smoke, and Steve Saka’s scrutinous eye has definitely played to your advantage.
Romeo Y Julieta House of Capulet Famous 80th Anniversary
Size: Toro (6″ x 52, Box-pressed)
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade
Not everybody smokes full-bodied cigars, even at a holiday barbecue. So, for those who like their smokes a little to the mellower side, but crave a Connecticut with an ample amount of flavor, we’ve got the latest version of the House of Capulet. The difference with the 80th is its box-pressed shape, which the Cigar Advisor editors unanimously agree has given this Capulet more oomph in the flavor profile. How’s that? Well, box pressing bunches the leaves a little differently, opening up the air-flow, and it has indeed ramped up the flavors of nuts, wood, citrus, spice and cocoa. Your initial puffs will be sweet and woody and delightfully creamy. Get down an inch, and this Shakespearean character opens up with intense nuttiness and the spice comes in right behind. Now, I wouldn’t pair this with a heavy Texan BBQ, but a traditional burger and dog gathering with macaroni, potato and garden salad would be an excellent match-up. (The cedar plank salmon recipe would go quite well.) A cold beer to wash it all down would put a nice cap on a great day. And it’s sweet and cedary aroma will actually have some nay-sayers complimenting your choice.
Padron 5000 Maduro
Size: Robusto (5 1/2″ x 56)
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Maduro
This is a beefy stick, both in taste and stature, and another fine pick for your holiday food-fest. All Nicaraguan leaf and aged a minimum of 2 ½ years, Padron has long been known as a pinnacle in cigar making. The 5000, with its semi-box-pressed, girthy 56 ring, will let the cigar smokers at the party know a serious player has arrived. The deep, rich flavor profile starts off with a spicy coffee bean note, then smooths out nicely with cocoa, wood, and earth. And the aroma is full and sweet, so, you’ll piss off some, but make some others smile in agreement. While I like the natural in this size, the maduro is fuller and sweeter which will hold up a bit better on the taste buds with all carnivorous fare at the gathering. And while it’s not in the price-range of the ’64 or ’26 offerings, know that it’s a Padron, which means it’s one hell of a good cigar.
Size: Potomac (5″ x 56 Robusto)
Wrappers: Connecticut/Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro (Barber Pole)
Strength: Medium – Full
This is one gorgeous looking fat little Robusto, expertly rolled in a barber pole fashion. The construction is amazing with a lot of billowing smoke and a very firm white ash. It’s a solid cigar packed with a whole lot of tobacco. The complex 5-country blend hails from Nicaragua, the US, Italy, the Dominican Republic, and Brazil. When you first light up there’s a woody sweetness and about a half inch in there’s a wonderful dark roast coffee flavor that laces the palate. I started to pick up some tangy citrus notes about a third the way in, making it one hell of an enjoyable smoke. I paired it with my beer can chicken recipe because the flavor profile of the cigar matched up so well with the marinade of Italian dressing and teriyaki. A nice Woodford Reserve bourbon made for some added sweetness and the experience was nothing short of sublime.